Humanitarian challenges

MSF expresses relief at release of kidnapped aid worker Arjan Erkel

MSF is immensely relieved at the release of MSF aid worker Arjan Erkel on Sunday, April 11, 2004, after 20 months as a hostage in the Northern Caucasus. At the same time, MSF emphasizes the heavy toll that Arjan's prolonged detention exacted on the ability to provide aid to war-affected civilians in the region.

After 607 days and some 18kgs, Arjan Erkel has been freed. He is now safe at home in Holland with his family. The MSF volunteer and Head of Mission in Dagestan, was taken on August 12, 2002 and was held for a total of 607 days. Arjan was released in the early hours yesterday, somewhat thinner and sporting a thick beard.

Arjan has been examined by an MSF doctor and, considering his ordeal, is in relatively good health. At a press conference held in Russia just before his departure to Holland, Arjan demonstrated his sense of humour had not escaped him, saying;" "I want to thank the Lord who brought me back to life today (and) I want to thank the Easter bunny, who brought me back to Makhachkala in a big chocolate egg."

MSF is delighted Arjan is now safe with his family after this ordeal.